Prized by Empires

Pula has been drawing visitors to its sunny shores since Roman times. Many an empire fought over its strategic Istrian Peninsula location, but thankfully they left its monuments largely intact. None is more impressive than huge Pula Arena, a Roman amphitheatre just back from the port.

The Temple of Rome and Augustus is a wall from another temple has been incorporated into the 10th-century Communal Palace on the cobbled square which occupies the site of the former Roman forum. The Arch of Sergii was a triumphal memorial and the Twin Gates and nearby Gate of Hercules provided access through the Roman walls.

Today’s walls are medieval and skirt a hill topped with a Venetian castle housing the Istrian History Museum. Halfway up are the Roman theatre remains, accessible via Pula Archaeological Museum.

The 6th-century Basilica of St Mary Formosa has mosaics similar to those in Ravenna across the Adriatic and Pula Cathedral was originally from the same century, but got rebuilt over 800 years later.

For many though, Pula’s wonderful beaches and turquoise seas are the biggest attractions. Its undulating coastline is peppered with luxury hotels, resorts and cheap apartments on, all easily accessible from Pula Airport. Some look towards the Brijuni National Park islands whose waters offer some great diving spots.